A swimmingly fun, educational trip sure to be enjoyed by young friends of the manatee.




A manatee, a hermit crab and a sea horse make an unlikely but enjoyable trio as they share facts, fun and friendship down the Eastern Seaboard.

Thayer’s debut children’s book introduces readers to Kobee—a manatee in a purple newsboy cap and yellow shirt—as he swims from Massachusetts’ Cape Cod Bay to his Florida home of Blue Spring State Park. This affable marine mammal is not alone on his adventure. Tess, a sea horse, and then a South Carolina hermit crab named Pablo join him for his dip in the Atlantic Ocean and his search for warmer waters. Through their interactions, the reader learns more about manatees. Kobee, the tale’s narrator, proves an invaluable traveling companion: He provides cover, protects his friends from close calls with both a shark and a giant sea turtle, helps Pablo locate a new shell and leads the group on their journey to his manatee habitat. Kobee has his own dangerous encounter as he, Tess and Pablo narrowly escape a collision with a boat. He warns that it’s sometimes difficult for boats to sight him. He cautions, “One of my manatee friends was badly hurt by a boat propeller.” Not to worry, though: Kobee is appropriately careful and circumvents catastrophe throughout his exploits. Thayer’s charismatic characters are further animated through Gallegos’ vibrant, color-saturated illustrations, bringing the story to life. Readers, however, are pulled away from the illustrations and the narrative at times by “Kobee’s Fun Facts,” superimposed boxes that provide facts and information about manatees. This clunky stylistic choice, however, does not undermine the information they present. When Tess remarks about Kobee’s large size, the boxed information states, “The average manatee is 10 feet long and weighs between 800 to 1,200 pounds!” Between Kobee’s narration and Thayer’s trivia, this is an entertaining tool that one can easily imagine supplementing lessons in marine conservation or biology.

A swimmingly fun, educational trip sure to be enjoyed by young friends of the manatee.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9883269-2-7

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Thompson Mill Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2013

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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